- The arrested men allegedly provided vehicles and shelter to terrorists
- They also carried out a recce and chose a spot for the attack on pilgrims
- 8 pilgrims, mostly women, had died and 19 were injured in the attack
The men -- Bilal Ahmed Reshi, Aizaj Wagey and Zahoor Ahmed -- had provided shelter to the four terrorists in Khudwani and Sriguffwara. They were also the ones to carry out a recce and chose a spot for the attack -- Botengo near Khanbal. That was where the terrorists lay in ambush and opened fire on the bus, which on way back from Amarnath, on the evening of July 10. The attack turned out to be the worst on Amarnath pilgrims in recent years - 19 people were injured, eight of them died.
"Two Lashkar militants were eliminated few days ago, their involvement in this particular case is still being investigated," state police chief Munir Khan was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. One of the terrorists was top Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Abu Dujana, who was killed in a pre-dawn operation in Kashmir's Pulwama last week.
Three months ago, Dujana had been replaced in the Lashkar hierarchy by Abu Ishmael, a Pakistani national who is believed to be the mastermind of the terror attack. Another terrorist involved in the attack has been identified as Yawar, a local recruiter. Efforts are on to identify two others, believed to be Pakistan nationals, the police said.
The police said an earlier attack on the pilgrims was attempted on July 9, by the group. But they were foiled by strong security arrangements.
Bilal's elder brother Adil, who is also a Lashkar terrorist, was killed by security forces earlier this year.